A few days ago, Dr. Andy Green reported an adult female Townsend’s Warbler visiting his backyard along with a Pine Warbler. Once accepted, this Townsend’s Warbler will be PA’s 4th State Record. Today was the first day my friends and I were free to make the drive down to see this beautiful western warbler and we were rewarded with great looks at the bird three times during our hour-long stay. Thanks to Dr. Green for allowing birders to visit his wonderful and bird-filled backyard!
After getting great looks at both the Townsend’s Warbler and Pine Warbler, we drove over to Mud Level Rd to check up on the Snowy Owl, Prairie Falcon, and whatever field birds might be around. We quickly located the Snowy Owl, which was sitting on the southeast side of Mud Level Rd and then went in search of the Prairie Falcon. We checked all of its usual perches, and couldn’t find it. But then I got a call from Ian Gardner, who was in the car behind us that he just spotted the falcon fly in and land on a telephone pole behind us. We quickly turned around and snapped off a few photos as the bird flew towards the west. Luckily, we were able to find the falcon again a few minutes later, this time perched on one of its favorite snags, along the north side of Mud Level Rd about a quarter mile west of the intersection with Duncan Rd – basically directly across the street from where the Snowy Owl was. From Mud Level Rd, all you had to do was look one direction and see a Snowy Owl and turn around and see a Prairie Falcon – a very odd situation, considering this is south central PA.
After driving around a little longer and not being able to find any field birds besides Horned Larks, we drove back towards State College. Along 322, while we were driving right alongside the Juniata River, we spotted an immature Golden Eagle soaring in the distance. I managed to snap off three photos as we shot by at 60mph.
Once back in State College, we decided to stop by Tadpole Rd really quick to see what was around. The highlight was a lone male Lapland Longspur mixed in with a small flock of Horned Larks at the north end of the wetlands!
Alex is currently studying Wildlife Biology at the Pennsylvania State University. Alex is a traveling field ornithologist, most recently working for the Center for Conservation Biology, studying migrant Whimbrel and other coastal birds of Virginia's Eastern Shore. He has done field work across the US on everything from Yellow-billed Cuckoos to Long-billed Curlews.
An avid birder since 8 years old, Alex has since been able to travel not only across most of the United States, but also to Central America and Southern Africa in search birds. Raptors, shorebirds, and warblers are among his favorite groups of birds to observe and photograph.
Alex is obsessive about eBird, combing through the data to help out with Big Days and is also a budding wildlife photographer.